Music.........Defining Icons and heroes

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Posted by Don Aters on 01/14/02 - 14:17:03
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We seem to identify with those most closely related in terms of demographics and the music that ltimately patterened our lives.  Emulation has always been the greatest compliment, with due respect to verbal kudos and plaudits.  Garcia is gone, John Kahn joined him shortly afterward, Brent Mydland passed away without much of a whimper media wise, Skip Spence, the Poster Child Of Psychedelia, became a ward of the state, a mental misfit and died quietly in 1999, clinging to the legacy of The counter Culture and the apex of Haight Ashbury and the bohemian lifestyle afforded by the era.
Others of importance.......Mickey mantle is gone, Wilt Chamberlain recently joined him and others of of that ilk are now sharing their tales of "daring do" in the next world.  All were representitives of the most brutal, violent yet progressive era known to mankind...........the sixties.  All were idolized, without delving into that would be detrimental in their staus, matters that would not be consistent in the ideology and worship from middle class America.  The thought of relagating Pete Maravich to that of mortal man seemed to be far beyond ludicrous. These names have become symbols of the lost youth and innocense of the burgeoning segment of humanity known as baby-boomers.
Are they heroes?  I doubt it.  Heroes are those who give either their own lives for the good of others or a lifetime of dedication to insure the betterment of the next generation.  During the course of conversation over historical events such as Woodstock, Atlanta Pop festival or even the evacuation of Vietnam, the numbers that were documented at the time of these mileposts have now soared to prodigious proportions as everyone wants to identify with some event that either altered or changed society as we know it.
Whenever an icon of our youth falls to the wayside, another nail in "the coffin of mortality" seems to be driven in and relevancy to an end of an era once again rears it's ugly head.
Many of these icons are synonymous with the accepted drug cultue of the day but the struggle in defining the terminology of icon and hero manifested after the death of Garcia and the arrest of O.J. Simpson.
The herarchy of corporate America has saturated the music genre and sports icons are not quite as visible.  Mediocrity is now rewarded with millionaire status and difficult to draw a dichotomy that separates those of great skills from paltry batting averages and points per game.  For those of us who remember the true "larger than life" athletes and musicians, it is somwhat easier to discern what constitutes an icon and a hero.  Time has definitely altered a myriad of things that were so prevelant when we were still in the throes of under-age drinking, curfews, etc, but ultimately, the ethos of the counter  culture and the musical revolution, continues to have some impact on society in it's current status of disarray and incompetency.
We have collectively become aware that we can't change the woes of the world in a smoke filled room of tie-stick or Lebanese brown hash, albeit, not through lack of effort.  It seemed a priority at the time but the those were the moments of contemplation, group discussions and acknowlegement of what being a hero truly is.  These events would show up the light, allow us to realize that true heroes were those who died in NYC, fallen in the dust of crumbling architecture and leaving their families and friends to struggle with the bleak, yet ominous future that would no longer be inclusive of them.  A striking remeinder of the fraility of the search continues for more than 2000 bodies.  This could be the union of those terms, where surviving icons could be of immeasurable difference in the lives of others.  We have come to appreciate and adore them as we would any chosen hero but now is the opportune time to capture the heart and soul of those who lost someone during that brief but blody day in September.  An evening with an icon will not bring back those lost in the most traumatic event since Pearl Harbor but could be fulcrum that allows the belief in both and allows for an escape, even if it's only for a night.  
I think of John McCain when discussions of heros occur and although he is still a politician, is there a greater hero than John in this country?  i doubt it, and after nearly six years in The hanoi Hilton and with limited use of his arms due to excessive torture, who could deny nhim such an accolade?  John Kerry, the last Medal of Honor winner, is also someone who should be reverred and appreciated for his sacrifices for this country.  
It has taken a lot of adversity, death and four decades of continuous violence but for the survivors of the era, I doubt we are disillusioned with events of personal enjoyment and the historical accomplishments that shape a nation,  The music of fabled bands has always been the great elixor, the potion that has helped
to heal a nation at war with itself for 35 years.  
With the lingering thoughts of the smoke and devastation of NYC. perhaps a dose of Jefferson Starship will become instrumental in the healing process of NYc and remembering the fallen brothers.
Icons and heroes, some would settle for either, but it's those who make a difference that truly matter, regarless of chosen superlatives.
To those who gave all in NYC, for those i know gave all in the fields of Southeast Asia and to Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, or any configuration thereof, who gave all in the only way they knew.........
"Rave on Crazy Diamonds"
If you continue to play, there is no event that will defray the masses from attending.
Don Aters
early morning lament ............

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